The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Population control

Population control is the practice of curtailing population increase, usually by reducing the birth rate. The practice has sometimes been voluntary, as a response to poverty, or out of religious ideology, but in some times and places it has been government-mandated. This is generally done to try to prevent a believed threat of Malthusian catastrophe, or overpopulation in general.

Given the nature of human reproductive biology, controlling the birth rate generally implies one of the following practices:

An important example of mandated population control is China's one-child policy, in which having more than one child is made extremely unattractive. This has led to allegations that practices like infanticide, forced abortions and forced sterilization are used as a result of the policy.

A prominent modern advocate for mandatory population control is Garrett Hardin , who proposed in his landmark 1968 essay The Tragedy of the Commons that society must relinquish the "freedom to breed" through "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon."

Another example was the classified study entitled National Security Study Memorandum 200, prepared by the U.S. National Security Council under the direction of Henry Kissinger in 1974. However, this report states that "it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion."

Last updated: 05-09-2005 11:15:19
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04